Weekend Short-Takes: 8/9/13

Square-Enix cuts quarterly losses by 75%, remains in red

Simon Wu:

These are some impressively bad financials. Of course, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of downsizing to cut losses, which in turn produces less revenue, and thus the cycle goes. Right now, this company doesn’t have much to ride on from its current titles. Instead, the company is depending on projections for the two next-gen Final Fantasy titles. That should, assuming a complete and systematic collapse does not occur, push them back into the black, what with preorders and demand for early titles on both new consoles. Right now, it looks like giving up that PS exclusivity turned out to be the right decision.

Max Gruber:

I think the problem with them is that they budget their games way too high, and they try to reach for the skies of expectations—like with Tomb Raider, and how they wanted to sell 6 million copies of it. They make great game after great game, but they’re trying to make their games the next Call of Duty, which is an extremely selfish thing to do. Also, I read this awhile ago, but Motomu Toriyama, the director of the upcoming game Lightning Returns, said he wants the game to “defeat Skyrim.” Defeat. Skyrim. SKYRIM! Even when they said that Skyrim was a major influence for the direction of this title, they want to defeat it? It’ll be great if it does (which I highly doubt will happen), but you’re gonna need to do more than increase Lightning’s bust size for specific outfits and add jiggle physics to her.

Jonathan Tung:

Maybe if they listened to their consumers more, then maybe they wouldn’t have ended up like this, hm? Seriously, now they’re slightly on par with that of Capcom: releasing sequels to games that we never asked for, making Mobile versions of popular titles, and rehashing the same title again and again.

gamesindustry.biz

Xbox Co-Founder Warns Publishers May Vanish

Simon Wu:

Honestly, there are so many avenues now of self-publishing and promotion that are rapidly being seized upon and used, that this is not bad news. The publisher model is old and predictably very bureaucratic and top-heavy, often imposing a corporate strategy on the creative vision of a game. (read: Dead Space 3) If alternative mechanisms become more widely used and flourish, the publishers must respond, just like in the music industry.

Max Gruber:

As discussed below, it’s getting ridiculous how expensive these games are in terms of budgeting. Not only do they have to budget for the development of the game, they also have to market it, and possibly attempt to bribe review sites to positively write about their game, which isn’t cheap. In all honesty, you’d think that higher budgets would result in more innovation, creativity, and an overall better game, yet it’s showing the exact opposite. It frightens me to even think of where the future of the industry will go. Will they make a comeback, or will they wither and die like a decaying flower?

gamesindustry.biz

Ubisoft: Triple-A Costs Will "Stifle" Innovation

Simon Wu:

Wasn’t this the same company that said only a few weeks before that if an idea wasn’t franchise-ready, they wouldn’t consider it? Ok Ubisoft, what are you up to? Making indie franchises through crowdsourcing? My skepticism at the ostensibly contradictory statements aside, Ubisoft have managed of their own accord to break the unholy publishing duopoly of EA and Activision, so if they plan to be more disruptive, I welcome it.

Max Gruber:

This is yet another problem with the future of gaming: the rising budgets for developing a game are getting to a point where any units sold is a disappointment. If they budget a game at $100 million, they need to sell ~3.7 million units in order to make that money back, and these games are barely selling any units at all when compared to CoD or Assassin’s Creed. 

Jonathan Tung:

This coming from a company that spent millions on making Watch_Dogs and Assassin’s Creed games. Kinda ironic, really.

escapistmagazine.com

Valve Tour Leaks Left 4 Dead 3

Max Gruber:

So... did they just confirm that Half-Life 3 exists? I’m so glad that group taking the tour took the best photo at the right time. Though, at this point, it’s yet to be announced publicly, so we’ll have to wait and see. Though I await the day that Gabe N. walks on stage, raises his hand and says, “1... 2... 3.” and then Half-Life 3 appears behind him.

Jonathan Tung:

It was bound to happen. Thanks to the help of some lucky redditors who manage to take the shot at the right place at the right time, we now have solid confirmation that Valve is, in fact making a third Left 4 Dead title. While this comes as somewhat of a disappointment for those still waiting for Half-Life 3 (and maybe proving to those who think that Valve is unable to count up to the number 3 in fact), this does come at an excellent time where Zombie-related media still continues to dominate popular culture, especially with the fourth season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” coming up this fall.

kotaku.com

Ubisoft Has Planned The End of Assassin's Creed

Simon Wu:

I’m sure the creative types behind the story of AC have written a fantastic and well-executed ending to the entire saga. But if they are all out of jobs because Ubisoft’s flagship franchise is over, will it ever see the light of day? As much as I love AC, I do want it to come to a proper end, and that talent put to use in other innovative titles.

Max Gruber:

It’ll end... once the fat lady sings and the game no longer makes any money. No, seriously, that’s the only way Assassin’s Creed will ever see a proper end. Watch Dogs does have potential to outsell Assassin’s Creed, but what will happen when Watch Dogs takes off? Will they begin farming that out once it takes off?

Alex Miller:

I do believe they are being truthful here, that they have an actual end planned out, however I’m sure its several years down the road. As Max suggests, much depends on the success of Watch_Dogs and its ability to carry Ubisoft in the same way that Assassin’s Creed has done for the last several years. How well The division and The Crew can sell will also factor in, as Ubisoft has to be looking to move away from the rather dangerous one horse startegy to have multiple franchises they can r

Sharing And Streaming Will Be Free On PS4 (But Not Xbox One)

Max Gruber:

Once again, another plus for the PS4. All of the services DO NOT require PS+ in order to use—unlike the Xbox One, where the vast majority of their content is locked away from non-Xbox Live Gold subscribers. Obviously you need an internet connection in order to use the services for the PS4, but given that the content is free to use, the only thing you’re really paying is access to the internet. Now, playing multiplayer on the PS4 will require you to upgrade to PS+, but that’s fine. As long as they don’t screw up down the line with the PS4, I think Sony will ride on the advantages that their console will have over the Xbox One.

Jonathan Tung:

And there goes another nail into the Xbone coffin.

Alex Miller:

Alright boys, let's slow down. While it is true that Playstation currently offers you more for your money when it comes to online services, I thought that the share button was the most gimmicky feature Sony has implemented into their new console. In past podcasts Simon and I have expressed our doubt over whether this will actually lead to more meaningful content or if it will just mean more period. With an influx or more instead of better, will it make it harder for the good to rise to the top? I still think any quality streamer will already have an Xbox Live account if they are using the Xbox One, so to me this particular feature doesn't matter a whole lot.
 

Whiplash's picture

I'm really scared about the state that SE is in right now. They have three or four titles that they are using as trump cards—one of them is an MMO, and the others have been in development for a longer period of time than Half-Life 3, and have yet to be given a release date. If these games fail or do not live up to expectations, I hate to say it, but they are well and truly screwed. Should they go bankrupt (which is likely to happen, given their situation), I think the best action for them is to disband and go their separate ways, since Square Soft merged with Eidos Soft when they were financially in trouble. But there's an even bigger problem that they'd be faced with: Who would purchase them? Capcom? Namco Bandai? Sega? Sony? It's really hard to see them making a comeback, but we'll see in time.

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